ICCE 2014 Cover Image


Climate Adaptation
Nature based Defenses
Ecosystem Based Adaptation

How to Cite

Reguero, B. G., Bresch, D. N., Beck, M., Calil, J., & Meliane, I. (2014). COASTAL RISKS, NATURE-BASED DEFENSES AND THE ECONOMICS OF ADAPTATION: AN APPLICATION IN THE GULF OF MEXICO, USA. Coastal Engineering Proceedings, 1(34), management.25.


The need to reduce risks from coastal storms and climate change in coastal areas has given rise to efforts to make greater use of integrated ecosystem-based approaches. Assessment of the role and cost efficiency of adaptation measures is increasingly demanded. Applying the Economics of Climate Adaptation framework in the US Gulf Coast, we compare nature-based defenses, artificial defenses, and policy measures for adaptation and risk reduction and quantify their costs and benefits under a variety of economic growth and climate change scenarios. Our analyses are spatially explicit and all models, tools and information are open source. The framework includes (i) a probabilistic assessment of hazards, (ii) estimation of damages and (iii) assessment of adaptation and risk reduction measures. We perform sensitivity analyses to understand the parameters that created the most variation in risk assessment and most influenced estimates of cost effectiveness. We find that high rates of economic growth and coastal development are likely to create greater risks in the near term than climate change, due to the increase in exposed assets. Nature-based solutions such as oyster reef and marsh restoration are particularly cost effective, but their cost-effectiveness is highly dependent on where these measures are used. As decision-makers look for the most cost effective group of measures for adaptation and risk reduction, these approaches and results should be particularly useful for informing management priorities.


Aerts, Jeroen C J H, W J Wouter Botzen, Kerry Emanuel, Ning Lin, and Hans De Moel. 2014. "Evaluating Flood Resilience Strategies for Coastal Megacities†: 1-3.

Barbier EB. 2007. Valuing ecosystem services as productive inputs. Econ Policy 22: 177-229.

Barbier EB, Koch EW, Silliman B, et al. 2008. Coastal ecosystem- based management with non-linear ecological functions and values. Science 319: 321-23.

Barbier, Edward B., Sally D. Hacker, Chris Kennedy, Evamaria W. Koch, Adrian C. Stier, and Brian R. Silliman. 2011. "The Value of Estuarine and Coastal Ecosystem Services.† Ecological Monographs 81 (2): 169-193. doi:10.1890/10-1510.1

Borsje, Bas W., Bregje K. van Wesenbeeck, Frank Dekker, Peter Paalvast, Tjeerd J. Bouma, Marieke M. van Katwijk, and Mindert B. de Vries. 2011. "How Ecological Engineering Can Serve in Coastal Protection.† Ecological Engineering 37 (2): 113-122. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2010.11.027

Bretschneider, C.L. 1990 Tropical cyclones. Handbook of Coastal and Ocean Engineering. Vol. 1. Houston: Gulf Publising Co., pp. 249-370.

Broekx, Steven, Steven Smets, Inge Liekens, Dirk Bulckaen, and Leo Nocker. 2010. "Designing a Long-Term Flood Risk Management Plan for the Scheldt Estuary Using a Risk-Based Approach.† Natural Hazards 57 (2): 245-266. Doi:10.1007/s11069-010-9610-x.

ECA 2009 Economics of Climate Adaptation. A report of the economics of climate adaptation working group. A framework for decision-making.

Entergy 2010. Building a Resilient Energy Gulf Coast: Executive Report. Entergy Corporation

CCRIF 2010 Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. Enhancing the Climate Risk and Adaptation Fact Base for the Caribbean

Cobell, Zachary, Haihong Zhao, Hugh J Roberts, F Ryan Clark, and Shan Zou. 2013. "Surge and Wave Modeling for the Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan†: 88-108. doi:10.2112/SI.

Dean, R., and Dalrymple, R. 1984, Water Wave Mechanics for Engineers and Scientists, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) 2007. The world's mangroves 1980-2005. FAO Forestry Paper 153. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy

Ferrario, F., M. W. Beck, C.D. Storlazzi, , F Micheli, C.C. Shepard, L. Airoldi 2014 The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation Nature Communications 5. doi:10.1038/ncomms4794

Fischbach, J.R., Johnson, D.R., Ortiz, D.S., Bryant, B.G., Hoover, M., Ostwald, J. 2012 Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model. Technical Description and 2012 Coastal Master Plan Analysis Results. Gulf States Policy Institute. A study by RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment

Gedan, K.B., M.L. Kirwan, E. Wolanski, E.B. Barbier, and B.R. Silliman (2011) The present and future role of coastal wetland vegetation in protecting shorelines: Answering recent challenges to the paradigm. Climatic Change 106 (1): 7-29.

Gesch, D., Oimoen, M., Greenlee, S., Nelson, C., Steuck, M., and Tyler, D., 2002, The National Elevation Dataset: Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 68, no. 1, p. 5-11.

Gesch, D.B., 2007, The National Elevation Dataset, in Maune, D., ed., Digital Elevation Model Technologies and Applications: The DEM Users Manual, 2nd Edition: Bethesda, Maryland, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, p. 99-118.

Halpern, B. S., et al. 2008. A global map of human impacts on marine ecosystems. Science 319:948-952.

Hallegatte, S., Green, C., Nicholls, R. J. & Corfee-Morlot, J. 2013 Future flood losses in major coastal cities. Nat. Clim. Chang. 3, 802-806 .

Hartig, J.H., M.a. Zarull, and a. Cook. 2011. "Soft Shoreline Engineering Survey of Ecological Effectiveness.† Ecological Engineering 37 (8): 1231-1238. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.02.006

Hinkel, Jochen, Daniel Lincke, Athanasios T Vafeidis, Mahé Perrette, Robert James, and Richard S J Tol. 2013. "Coastal Flood Damage and Adaptation Costs under 21st Century Sea-Level Rise.† doi:10.1073/pnas.1222469111.

Holland, G. J., 1980: An analytic model of the wind and pressure profiles in hurricanes. Monthly Weather Review, 108, 1212-1218

IPCC, 2012: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

IPCC, 2014. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Ivins, E.R., R.K. Dokka and R.G. Blom, (2007) Post-glacial sediment load and subsidence in coastal Louisiana, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L16303, doi:10.1029/2007GL030003.

Johnson, D.R, J.R Fischbach, D. S Ortiz 2013. "Estimating Surge-Based Flood Risk with the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model Estimating Surge-Based Flood Risk with the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model† 67: 109-126. doi:10.2112/SI.

Knutson, T. R. et al. Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nat. Geosci. 3, 157-163 (2010).

Lin, N., Emanuel, K., Oppenheimer, M. & Vanmarcke, E. Physically based assessment of hurricane surge threat under climate change. Nature Clim. Change 2,462-467 (2012).

Lopez, J.A. 2009 The multiple lines of defense strategy to sustain coastal Louisiana. Journal of Coastal Research SI (54): 186-197.

Lotze, H. K., H. S. Lenihan, B. J. Bourque, R. H. Bradbury, R. G. Cooke, M. C. Kay, S. M. Kidwell, M. X. Kirby, C. H. Peterson, and J. B. C. Jackson. 2006. Depletion, degradation, and recovery potential of estuaries and coastal seas. Science 312:1806-1809.

McGranahan G., D. Balk, and B. Anderson 2007: The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones. Environment and Urbanization, 19, 17-37. Doi: 10.1177/0956247807076960

MEA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) 2005 Ecosystems and human well-being: current state and trends. Coastal systems. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA

NAS (National Academic of Sciences) 2014 WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD and OCEAN STUDIES BOARD, July 2014

Nicholls, R. J. et al. 2007 Ranking of the World's Cities Most Exposed to Coastal Flooding today and in the Future (OECD, 2007).

NOAA. 2011. The Gulf of Mexico at a Glance: A Second Glance. Washington, National Ocean Service DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.

NYC, 2013 Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. Plan NYC: A Stronger, More Resilient Vol. 438 New York, NY, USA.

Orth, R. J., et al. 2006. A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems. BioScience 56:987-996

PwC Economics 2013 World in 2050. The BRICs and beyond: prospects, challenges and opportunities. PwC Economics. 25pp

Resio, D. T. & Westerink, J.J. 2008 Modelling the physics of storm surges. Phys. Today 61,33-38

Scawthorn, Charles, Paul Flores, Neil Blais, Hope Seligson, Eric Tate, Stephanie Chang, Edward Mifflin, et al. 2006a. "HAZUS-MH Flood Loss Estimation Methodology. II. Damage and Loss Assessment.† Natural Hazards Review 7 (2) (May): 72-81. Doi:10.1061/(ASCE)1527-


Scawthorn, Charles, Neil Blais, Hope Seligson, Eric Tate, Edward Mifflin, Will Thomas, James Murphy, and Christopher Jones. 2006b. "HAZUS-MH Flood Loss Estimation Methodology. I: Overview and Flood Hazard Characterization.† Natural Hazards Review 7 (2) (May): 60-71. Doi:10.1061/(ASCE)1527-6988(2006)7:2(60).

Silva, R. Govaere, G., Salles, P., Bautista, G. and Diaz, G. 2002 Oceanographic vulnerability to hurricanes on the Mexican coast. Proc. 28th International Conference on Coastal Engineering. World Scientific. Singapure,

Smith, J. B. et al. Development and climate change adaptation funding: coordination and integration. Climate Policy 11, 987-1000 (2011).

Spalding, Mark D., Anna L. McIvor, Michael W. Beck, Evamaria W. Koch, Iris Möller, Denise J. Reed, Pamela Rubinoff, et al. 2014. "Coastal Ecosystems: A Critical Element of Risk Reduction.† Conservation Letters 7 (3): 293-301. doi:10.1111/conl.12074

SPM (Shore Protection Manual) 1984. Us Corps of Engineers. Coastal Engineering Research Center (U.S.). Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Coastal Engineering Research Center.

Temmerman, Stijn, Patrick Meire, Tjeerd J Bouma, Peter M J Herman, Tom Ysebaert, and Huib J De Vriend. 2013. "Ecosystem-Based Coastal Defence in the Face of Global Change.† Nature 504 (7478) (December 5): 79-83. doi:10.1038/nature12859.

Tuleya et at., 2006: Evaluation of GFDL and Simple Statistical Model Rainfall Forecasts for U.S. Landfalling Tropical Storms

UNEP 2006. Marine and coastal ecosystems and human wellbeing: A synthesis report based on the findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.

Valiela, I., J. L. Bowen, and J. K. York. 2001. Mangrove forests: one of the world's threatened major tropical environments. BioScience 51:807-815

Van Slobbe, E. et al. 2013 Building with nature: in search of resilient storm surge protection strategies. Nat. Hazards 65,947-966

Waycott, M., et al. 2009. Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106:12377-12381

Woodruff, Jonathan D, Jennifer L Irish, and Suzana J Camargo. 2013. "Coastal Flooding by Tropical Cyclones and Sea-Level Rise.† doi:10.1038/nature12855.

Worm, B., et al. 2006. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science 314:787-790. Young, I.R., 1988. A parametric hurricane wave prediction model. J. Waterway Port Coast. Ocean Eng. 114 (5), 639-652.

Authors retain copyright and grant the Proceedings right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this Proceedings.